What day is it today? Yes, it’s Thursday – but did you know it’s also World Malaria Day?
Malaria is something that ITIJ frequently reports on as new and ongoing outbreaks may affect travellers and expatriates depending on their destination. Today represents an international observance of global efforts to control malaria, and international medical, security and travel assistance services company Healix International has highlighted the importance of employers taking preventative measures for employees travelling to high-risk zones.
“Long-term travellers have a higher risk of malaria than short-term travellers for a number of reasons, not just because their potential time of exposure is greater,” said Dr Adrian Hyzler, Chief Medical Officer, Healix International. “They tend to underuse personal protective measures and adhere poorly to continuous anti-malarial prophylaxis. And there is often a perceived low risk of malaria reinforced by misinformed advice from local colleagues. Yet, employers have a duty of care responsibility and need to find ways to ensure that the right precautions are being taken throughout an international assignment.”
The company’s rules for providing full duty of care for travellers and expats are:
- Offer specialist travel medicine advice before travel.
- Ensure appropriate anti-malarial tablets are obtained before travel.
- Ensure medication is taken in advance of travel.
- Observe bite prevention methods such as using DEET insecticide spray, covering skin, using insecticide-treated bed nets and spraying rooms.
- Minimise outdoor time when mosquitoes are most active ─ from dusk until dawn.
- Finish courses of antimalarials.
- Awareness of symptoms when back home.
Dr Hyzler concluded: “Personal protective measures are paramount. Identification of reliable medical facilities at destinations is crucial for long-term travellers regardless of their malaria prevention strategies ─ these should be identified prior to outbound travel. And crucially, long-term travellers should always ensure they have evacuation insurance for medical emergencies.”